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Astronautics Literature Review 


Serial 009 
NUCLEAR PROPULS ICM 


Title; A FEW CCMCEHTS ON ROCKETRY 

Author: Professor Theodore von Karman, Chairman, Advisory Group for 

Aeronautical Research and Development, N.A.T.O. , Paris 

Source: Interavia, Vol. VIII, No. 11, 1953, p- 628-629 


VERBATIM QUOTATION 

Dr. von Karmen mentions unconventional methods of propulsion only in the 
following words: 

p. 628 

"The rocket ejects matter (or radiation as visualized in the 
imagination of some planners of future rocketry) which is entirely 
carried in the vehicle to be propelled. " 

P- 629 

"Finally there is the problem of the nuclear rocket, at least in 
its clearest form, which uses a nuclear process to supply heat to a 
fluid with low molecular weight. Even this proposal involves, of course, 
the still unsolved problem of extracting a controlled amount of heat 
from the nuclear reactor and transferring it at high temperature to the 
"working fluid’. Furthermore, the necessary shielding presents a weight 
problem. However, for large rockets, the weight of shielding may be 
balanced by the reduction in the weight of the matter which would have to 
be ejected by an ordinary rocket." 


DAC NOTE : 

/ / 

Dr. von Karman makes no reference to anti -gravities, electrical propul- 
sion, etc., although this would have been an obvious opportunity to do so, 
had he wished to emphasise this subject. 


tf. B. Klemperer 
12-6-5^ 


Astronautics Literature Review 


Serial 010 


nuclear propulsion 

Title: THE USE CSF ATOMIC POWER FOR ROCKETS 

Author: Dr. Robert Serber (U. of Calif. ) 

Source: Research Memorandum #1, Project RAND, July 5, 1946 (UNCLASSIFIED) 

Also reprinted as Appendix IV to Second Quarterly Report on Project 
RAND, September 1, 1946, RA -15004 


DAC COMMENTS 

This report which discussed the outlook of propulsion by nuclear power at 
a relatively early (1946) stage of the development of nuclear power appliances 
assessed the possible momentum recovery from any conceivable direct exploitat- 
ion of the energy of fission products of nuclear reactions as extremely inef- 
ficient and unattractive. Fission fragments have high velocity but short range 
and small momentum. Alpha particles fly in all directions, hence half of their 
energy would have to be absorbed aboard, so something like 1000 times the kinetic 
energy of rocket flight would have to be transformed into heat and gotten rid 
of somehow. This leaves the utilization of the nuclear reaction heat for the 
ejection of an inert working fluid as the only practical solution. Efflux 
velocity becomes TTgtximum when the total supply of working fluid amounts to about 
four times the empty end mass of the vehicle. 

These conclusions are in full agreement with similar deductions published 
in many scientific articles published since then. 


Listings : None 


Reference: Serial 006 (LXA 750-121) 


12/2/54 

W.B. Klemperer 


Astronautics Literature Review 


Serial Oil 


NUCLEAR PROPULSION 


ATOMIC POWERED ROCKETS 
Cedric Giles 

Journal of the American Rochet Society #63, Sept 19^5 


DAC ABSTRACT ASP COMMENT 

This is an early speculative assessment of the possibilities of the appli- 
cation of nuclear power to Rocket Propulsion, attempted immediately after the 
release of the Smyth Report in August 19^5* The author thinks of such things 
as: Fission released energy to heat liquids or gases to he expelled to drive 

turbines or to be exhausted directly, electron beams to split water into oxy- 
gen and hydrogen which would then recombine chemically as steam; atomic jet 
impelled reaction power plants (?) "electrostatic or magnetic fields produced 
as a by-product (?) of atomic energy". The article contains no real technical 
contribution to knowledge. 


Listings: LIA 750-1 


WBK 

Dec . 15 * 5^ 


Title: 

Author: 

Source: 


Astronautics Literature Index 


Serial 012 


NUCLEAR PROPULSION 
SLSCTRCMAONEIIC PROPULSION 

Title: A CGNTRIBOTIGN TO THE LEVTEA.TICN PROBLEM 

Author: Cedric Giles 

Source: Journal of the American Rocket Society, No. JO, June V&J , P* 33 


Verbatim Quotation: 

"A few years ago a suggestion^- was made that a special type of reflector 
might be used to control the direction of atonic particles for providing a re- 
action to the rocket. The general idea may be considered similar to the prin- 
ciple of reflecting light rays in straight lines from a parabolic mirror which 
has a source of light at its focus point. 

"As in Fig. 2, atomic particles would emanate from a fixed source of 
radioactive energy and on meeting a form of electromagnetic parabolic reflector 
would be reflected in parallel lines opposite to the direction of travel by the 
rocket. As discharged particles are now controlled in the cyclotron by magnetic 
forces the possibility of eventually developing such a source of reflected 
energy was not considered too remote. 

Reference 

1 U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, June 1942." 


Astronautics Literature Index Serial 013 

ELBCTR(34AG5ETIC PROPULSION 
NUCLEAR PROPULSION 

Title: ON THE APPLICATION OF A REACTION FORCE RESULTING FRG1 AN 

INTERACTION CF WAVES IN AN ELLIPTIC REFLECTION SPACE 

Author: Hans J. Kaeppeler 

Source: Rocketseience, vol. 4 § 1 , March 50, p. 6 


Title: ON A THEORY QF POIAR FORCES AS A PRINCIPLE FOR APPLICATION 

CF ATOMIC ENERGY TO ROCKET PROPULSION 

Author: Hans J. Kaeppeler 


Rocketscienee vol 

5 

#2 

June 51, 

P* 

34 I 

[Pt. 

I) 

vol 

5 

#3 

Sept 51, 

P* 

64 1 

[Pt. 

II) 

vol 

5 


Dec 51, 

P- 

83 1 

[Pt. 

III) 

vol 

6 

#1 

Mar 52, 

P« 

20 1 

Pt. 

I?) 

vol 

6 

#2 

June 52, 

P- 

4l I 

[Pt. 

V) 


MC ABSTRACT AND COMMENTS 

Kaeppeler develops a theory of the generation of thrust from a highly 
hypothetical radiation engine comprising an interior reflector in the shape 
of a prolate ellipsoid of revolution in the forward focus of which a pulsat- 
ing source of nuclear energy generates enormously intense radiation and in- 
duces an opposite phase pulsation at the rear focus. The reflector shell is 
open at the rear end. The very involved mathematical calculations are allegedly 
based on an analogy with the forces generated in a fluid between two sources 
pulsating in antisymmetric unison source-sink action. 

Kaeppeler Hakes light of the technical problems conjured up in the 
design of the mirror shell end the containment of the enormous temperatures 
necessary to yield any sizable thrust effect. He assumes deuterium-helium 
processes and nonchalantly (!) speaks of temperatures of 2 million degrees, 
envisages a reflector shell 1 m long, exhaust velocity 1000 km/sec, tons of 
liquid heavy hydrogen and other fantastic or visionary requisites. The author’s 
Imagination is rather uninhibited. 


Haas Kaeppeler 


- 2 - 


Serial Q13 


EIBCTRCMAGRETIC PROPULSION 
NUCLEAR PROPULSION 


HOTE 1 : The articles vere submitted, to the Journal of the Detroit Rocket 

Society, Inc. in German and translated by A. J. Zaehringer, editor 
of the Journal. The translation is in many places non-idiomatic 
and therefore even more difficult to understand than (presumably) 
the original text. 

NOTE 2 : " About the Author : Although born in 1926 he has already done much 

in the field of rockets. A member of the BIS, DRS and G?W he has 
written many articles. He attended the University of Dillingen and 
Tuebingen where he had studied theoretical physics. His early edu- 
cation was at Dillingen and Weissenhorn. During the war he was a 
member of the German Air Force. After the last war he worked at 
the Power Plant Laboratory at Wright Field, Ohio as an assistant 
of Dr. W. C. Noeggerath and later working with the U.S. Military 
Government in Germany. He is now Chief Research Specialist for 
the USAF Historical Research Division, Ulm/Donau, Germany* M 

(Dr. Noeggerath, now with Lockheed Missiles Group, in a telephone 
conversation stated that he remembers Kaeppeler only vaguely as 
a PCW detailed to do draftsman's duties at Wright Field until 
sent home. Kaeppeler left the impression of an eager beaver with 
a flair for scientific grandiloquence. In 1952 Kaeppeler was a 
very busy member of the Illrd Astronautics Congress in Stutgart.) 


Us tings: LIA. 780-2 

A-GC lk21 (Second title) 


W. B. Klemperer 
December 15, 195^ 


Astronautics Literature Review Serial 014 

HUCLEAR PROFUSION 

Title: ATOMIC POWER FOR AIRCRAFT 

Author: A. Kalitineky 

Source: SAE Quarterly Transactions, Jan. 1949, Vol. 3 No. 1, p. 15 

(also AeroDigest, vol. 57, Aug 1948, p. 58, 59, 121, 123) 


VERBATIM QUOTATION 

"Types of Atomic Power Plants 

"Several basic types of powerplants can be adapted to utilize atomic 
energy for the propulsion of aircraft. They are all thermal powerplants, since 
fission energy is released predominantly in the form of heat. Some thought has 
been given to the direct production of electricity from the fission process, 
but there is at present, no known practical way of achieving this." 


"Fig. 13 shows the application of nuclear energy to a rocket. A propellant, 
for instance liquid hydrogen, is pumped out of the tank and through the reactor, 
where it is vaporized and heated to a high temperature. It then escapes at 
high velocity through the exhaust nozzle. The rocket is driven by the recoil 
of the escaping propel lant , and is therefore not dependent on atmospheric air 
for its functioning. It can, therefore, operate outside the earth’s atmosphere . 
One may well ask where the advantage lies in using nuclear energy for a rocket, 
since its endurance is limited, as it can operate only until the propellant is 
exhausted, regardless of the practically unlimited supply of energy in the 
reactor. The reason why nuclear energy offers a definite advantage in rockets 
is that the specific impulse of a rocket propellant , the pounds of thrust that 
can be obtained from each pound of propellant used per second, is proportional 
to the square root of the absolute propellant temperature divided by the molecular 
weight of the propellant . In other words, the highest possible temperature and 
the lowest possible molecular weight are desired. The high temperature is ob- 
tained normally, in a chemical rocket, by the combustion of a fuel and an oxi- 
dizer, whose products of combustion are then used as the propellant. Since the 
weight will obviously be fairly high. For instance, if hydrogen and oxygen are 
used, the resulting propellant is water vapor, with a molecular weight of 18. 

On the other h and, if nuclear energy is used to provide the hig h temperature, 
there is no need for the process of combustion, and very light propellants, 
hydrogen, for instance, with a molecular weight of 2 can be used. Since the 
ratio of l£ and 2 is 9, and the square root of 9 is 3, the specific impulse of 
pure hydrogen at the same temperature is three times that of water vapor." 


Listings: LIA 750-6 


Astronautics Literature Review 


Serial 015 
PHOTONIC PROPULSION 


Title: IKTERSTEUAR FLIGHT 

Author: Leslie R. Shepherd, Ph. D. 

Source; Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, Vol. 11, No. k 
pp. 149-167 (July 1952) 


AUTHOR'S SUMMARY 

"The most significant factor in flight to the stars is the vast scale 
of distances involved. It would be possible, at least in principle, to 
construct a vehicle, deriving its power from known nuclear reactions, which 
would be capable of reaching the nearest stars in a period of time measured 
in centuries. Such a vehicle might achieve a may tmiim velocity of 5,000 to 
10,000 km/sec. One difficult problem would be the attainment of reasonable 
accelerations in conjunction with the necessary high exhaust velocities. An 
acceleration of 0.3 cm/sec - would be adequate but would involve an almost 
prohibitive rate of power dissipation. 

"Vehicles designed to achieve velocities close to that of light would 
need to utilize sources of energy far more potent than any known today. 

Nothing less than the complete conversion of matter into utilizable energy 
would be sufficient for this purpose. The dynamics of vehicles moving at 
such high velocities would have to be based upon the principles of special 
relativity. An important consequence of this would be the reduction of 
voyage transit times in the traveller’s system of reference. Even if one 
assumes the existence of power sources capable of giving vehicles veloci- 
ties near to the speed of light, the attainment of useful accelerations 
would be a formidable problem. Accelerations of the order of 1 g would be 
necessary, to exploit fully the capabilities of the time -dilatation effect. 

A hypothetical vehicle propelled by photons would require to develop a use- 
ful power rating of 3 billion watts per tonne of vehicle mass ( 3x10^ watts/tonne) 
to obtain 1 g acceleration. If the photons were radiated from "black body" 
surfaces , the temperatures involved would be of the order of 100,000°C. 

"Interstellar matter would not provide a hazard at vehicle velocities 
less than 100,000 kra/see., but at near optic velocities, individual nuclei 
of the interstellar gas would penetrate through considerable thicknesses 
(10 cm) of solid metal and precautions would have to be taken to protect 
ary people in the vehicle." 


Leslie R. Shepherd -2 

Interstellar Flight 

JBIS, Vol. 11, No. 4, Jul 1952 


DAC COMMENTS 

This is a well -written paper, covering a wide variety of subjects. The 
published abstract is quite inclusive. However, a few additional comments on 
the portion of the paper covering photonic rocket propulsion are in order. 

The author indicates that for a hypothetical vehicle having a mass ratio 
of 7*4 and unity efficiency of energy conversion, the true velocity of the ve- 
hicle (relative to the system in which it was Initially at rest) would be 
59/6l times the speed of light (0.967c). Electrically accelerated photons are 
not considered and the only emission discussed is black body radiation. As 
mentioned in the abstract, the emitting surface (l square meter) should have 
the tremendous temperature of 100,000°K., and a power of 3X10 12 watts/tonne of 
ship mass would be required. 

The paper contains an excellent, elementary discussion of relativity as 
of importance to space travel. 


REPMtiSNCES 

1. L. R. Shepherd and A. V. Cleaver, JBIS, 7, pp 191-192 (Sept. 1948) 

2. L. R. Shepherd and A. V. Cleaver, JBIS, 8, pp 59-70 (March 1949) 

3. L. Spitzer, JBIS, 10, pp. 249-257 (Nov. 1951) 

4. H. Preston -Thomas, JBIS, 11 (4), pp 173-193 (July 1952) 

5. M. W. Ovenden, JBIS, 10, pp 176-180 (July 1951) 

6. J. Ackeret, Helvetica Physics Acta (April 1946): JBIS, 6, 

pp 116-123 (March 1947) 


Listings : LIA 664 

A-GC 17 


Serial 015 
PHOTCBIC PRGFUISION 


12-2-54 
G. J. Mueller 


3 * 


Astronautics Literature Review 


Serial 016 


Subject: KBIT 


IONIC PROFULSICfj 


Source: Scientific American, Vol. 191, Ho. 3, Sept emb er 1954 


DAC ABSTRACT : 

This extremely Instructive and authoritative symposium on the nature and 
phenomena of heat is composed of the following chapters. 


Chapters 7 and 8 contain brief remarks pertaining to methods of propulsion 
which are unconventional in terms of presently accomplished practice but must 
be considered as conceivable and compatible with scientific knowledge. These 
remarks are quoted verbatim below: 

From Chapter 7> p. 31. 


"More advanced jet -propulsion performance will undoubtedly come about 
through the use of nuclear energy in place of chemical energy, but this develop- 
ment has only just begun. In the near future advances in jet propulsion will 
ccane about through the development of more efficient combustion systems and 
the improvement of the means of converting heat into kinetic energy." 

From Chapter 8, p. i40-l42 


"The investigation of the dynamics of very hot gases not only is beginning 
to unravel many mysteries ocf our astronomical cosmos but also offers some ex- 
citing possibilities in the technology of flight. Our present airplanes — 
rocket or jet-propelled — are ultimately limited in speed by the gas velocity 
that can be attained by chemical reactions. For practical space flight we 
shall need much higher velocities. One possible way to attain it is to ac- 
celerate gas with magnetic forces instead of merely with chemical combustion. 
There is no known theoretical limit to the propulsive Impulse obtainable from 
a given mass of gas expelled in this way. Hie electrical energy for acceler- 
ation could be supplied by a nuclear reactor. This propulsion device would 
be essentially an electric motor with a gas replacing the usual solid armature. 


1. Man the Fire-Maker 

2. What is Heat? 

3. Heat and Life 

4. High Temperatures: Flame 

5* High Temperatures : Materials 

6. High Temperatures : Chemistry 

7* High Temperatures: Propulsion 

8. Very High Te mp eratures 
9- Ultrahigh Temperatures 


by Loren C. Eiseley 
by Freeman J. Eyson 
by Frank H. Johnson 
by Bernard Lewis 
by Pol Duwez 
by Farrington Daniels 
by Martin Suramerfield 
by Arthur Kantrowitz 
by Fred Hoyle 


Scientific American 
Sept. 1954 


Serial 


016 


"It say even be possible to find ways to use magneto-hydrodynamic forces 
for control and lift, as well as for propulsion, of the ships in which man 
eventually will take off into space." 


W. B. Klemperer 
Dec. 14, 1954